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The Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit

The University of Montana

Sarah Bassing - M.Sc. Candidate - Wildlife Biology

Advisor - Mike Mitchell


Natural Science Building - Room 312


Project Title:

Developing a monitoring framework to estimate wolf distribution and abundance in southwest Alberta


B.S. Wildlife Biology, University of Montana, 2008


Broadly, my interests are in predator conservation and human-wildlife conflicts.  I've worked on a variety of wildlife research projects throughout the western US since 2006, ranging from tule elk demography in California, to bald eagle conservation in Arizona, and wolf management in west central Montana.  I started working for the Montana Cooeprative Wildlife Research Unit in 2010 as a field technician.  Based on data collected during rendezvous site surveys in southwest Alberta over the past three years, preliminary genetic data and anecdotal information suggest wolf mortality is high in this region and few resident animals survive from one year to the next.  Management agencies and local communities are keenly interested in monitoring this wolf population for management purposes but high turnover in the population makes long-term monitoring difficult.


I began developing exploratory patch occupancy models to estimate gray wolf distribution and abundance in southwest Alberta in 2013.  I plan to continue refining these models as part of my graduate work by testing additional covariates and finding innovative methods to address model assumptions in my study area.  I will also estimate colonization and extinction probabilities, a relatively under-used application of occupancy modeling, to understand how wolves are able to sustain their population despite apparent high turnover.  I also plan to use three years of genetic data to examine movement within the region and determine if immigration effects population sustainability.

Natural Sciences Room 205

Missoula, MT 59812